All About Acid Influx In Babies

When liquid is flowing in the wrong direction, we call it reflux. A baby who has acid reflux, also called gastro-oesophageal reflux, will experience a problem where the acid in the stomach gets squirted back to the food pipe (oesophagus). The oesophagus is responsible for carrying drink and food from the baby’s mouth to the stomach. There is a valve at the end of the oesophagus that opens in order to allow food into the stomach and closes. For a baby having acid reflux, the feeding systems become immature and the valve does not stay shut most of the time. This, sometimes, causes the baby to vomit. The condition of acid reflux normally affects about twenty per cent of babies. It is common among premature babies and also in those whose parents are smokers. It is also less common in babies who are breastfed because breast milk gets easily and quickly digested. However, there are some strategies that assist a person to cope with the situation.

What Are the Common Signs of Acid Reflux in Babies?

About eighty per cent of babies who are born have some level of reflux as a result of immaturity of their valves. Good enough, most of them will not show any symptoms and will outgrow this conditions in twelve months. But, for those babies in whom the condition persists, the symptoms are many and vary depending on how severe the reflux conditions are.

The symptoms that are evident in two to four weeks’ old include posseting, vomiting, arching the back, poor sleeping patterns and poor weight loss or gain. Vomiting occurs in large amounts, especially soon after a child has been fed. Also, arching the back normally happens when a baby is being fed and can be accompanied by a baby crying in pain. This should not be misinterpreted for ‘colic’. The acid reflex discomfort last for an hour and can be so painful to the extent of making your baby to start refusing some feeds. Further, it should be noted that reflux commonly occurs when a baby is lying flat and the baby’s sleep gets disturbed. But, when the baby is picked up, the condition settles down to some extent.

How do you diagnose acid reflux in babies

Many a times, doctors diagnose reflux by listening to what a parent reports about the baby’s symptoms. In rare cases, additional tests are carried out in order to confirm the diagnosis. Some of the tests carried out include nasal pH investigation, barium swallow test and endoscopy. Under nasal pH investigation, a thin tube is passed via the baby’s nasal passage so that the level of the acid available in the oesophagus is measured. There are special lining in the stomach that guard it from the acid which is breaking down food. However, when there is reflux, this acid is vomited along the oesophagus and in dangerous situations irritates or burns the oesophagus wall lining.

During barium swallow test, the baby is given a radio-opague liquid to swallow and this liquid helps in reflecting how the stomach and the esophagus are functioning under x-ray. For endoscopy, there is a small camera that is employed to make observations into the stomach of a baby.

What Treatments are Available?

Fortunately, there are a number of treatments recommended for treatment of reflux. Simple medication can be prescribed for babies who require treatments. The medications include H2 receptors and motility stimulants. The aim of these treatments is to reduce the effect of the symptoms. H2 receptors lower the quantities of acid that are produced in the baby’s stomach and it is used in cases where influx is severe.

Further, there are other methods that can be employed to ease the reflux symptoms. Such methods include:


Whenever possible, it is good to breastfeed a baby. The breast milk gets easily and quickly digested and, therefore, less likelihood that it can be vomited back.


In some babies, thickening milk that has special ingredients reduces the reflux effect.

Using Right Positions During and After Feeds

Your baby should be kept upright for not less than 30 minutes after feeds. This allows digestion of food with the assistance of gravity. The duration should be longer if the baby is bottle fed. Also, you can avoid exciting or bouncing the baby as this would lead to sloshing of the acid in the baby’s stomach and cause irritation. Put your baby in a quiet, calm and soothing environment after feds.

Raising cot heads while the baby is sleeping

When you raise the cot heads for a sleeping baby, it allows gravity to reduce reflux, even when it is at its worse state.

Using a dummy

Dummy sucking leads to increased saliva production. In turn, saliva neutralizes the acid that comes from the stomach.

Massaging the baby

Research has shown that massaging a baby is crucial in improving the symptoms attached to digestive issues, including the problem of reflux.

Proper Clothing of the Baby

As a parent or guardian, ensure that your baby’s clothing does not exert pressure on the baby’s waist. Undue tension on the baby’s tummy can lead to vomiting.

Additional Advice to Parents

When the reflux situation becomes severe or the symptoms reappear even after basic treatments, take your child to a specialist. Just sleep when your baby sleeps, and consult friends and relatives who understand the problem. It is important that you do not blame yourself because there is really nothing during your pregnancy that leads to reflux. The truth of the matter is that the baby will grow. In fact, the exact cause of influx is the immaturity of their sphincter muscles. Sphincter muscles form the valve between the stomach and the esophagus. Fortunately, these muscles mature with time and most children outgrow reflux problem after few months. By twelve to eighteen months, any child has overgrown reflex. Generally, there is no cause to panic about your baby’s influx except to remain calm while implementing appropriate measures or medication.

In rare circumstance, where a baby is suffering from motor diseases, a child may suffer reflux up to childhood.